Democratic Forest Trusts (PDF)in Watson, Alan; Dean, Liese; Sproull, Janet, comps. 2006. Science and stewardship to protect and sustain wilderness values: Eighth World Wilderness Congress Symposium; 2005 September 30-October 6; Anchorage, AK.Democratic trusts with leadership elected by citizen-members promise to solve many of the problems afflicting both traditional government and corporate ownership of forestlands.Â This article explores these issues in some depth.Complexity and the Dream of Human Control of Eco-Systems (PDF)in Watson, Alan; Dean, Liese; Sproull, Janet, comps. 2006. Science and stewardship to protect and sustain wilderness values: Eighth World Wilderness Congress Symposium; 2005 September 30-October 6; Anchorage, AK.The title captures it.Â I then explore the kinds of institutions compatible with both nature and the modern world that are implied from this analysis.Rethinking the Obvious: Modernity and Living Respectfully With Nature (PDF)The Trumpeter: Journal of Ecosophy, Winter, 1997.Modernity is usually considered a wrong turn in terms of respect for and sustaining the environment.Â I argue the reality is more complex, for modernity has freed us from personal dependence on agriculture, ended the economic value of children, radically reduced the likelihood of large scale wat, and shifted much production to intellectual rather than material capital.Â This partially decouples society from nature, which gives us important opportunities as well as problems.Towards an Ecocentric Political Economy (PDF)The Trumpeter, Fall, 1996.This paper begins my effort at showing how liberal modernity can be harmonized with an ecocentric perspective on our relationship with the natural world.Â It is a corrective to much “free market environmental” literature that sacrifices Nature to money as well as to anti-liberal attacks by well-meaning but economically naÃ¯ve environmentalists.Unexpected Harmonies: Self-Organization in Liberal Modernity and Ecology (PDF)The Trumpeter, Journal of Ecosophy, 10:1, Winter 1993This is my initial paper exploring how what I term ‘evolutionary liberal’ thought can be an important means by which society and nature can be brought into greater harmony.Â The other Trumpeter papers build on it.Deep Ecology and Liberalism: The Greener Implications of Evolutionary Liberalism (PDF)Review of Politics, Fall, 1996.Liberal thought and deep ecology are usually regarded as mutually exclusive. But the “evolutionary” tradition offers a way to integrate the two through commonalties in the work of David Hume, Michael Polanyi, Arne Naess, and Aldo Leopold, providing a stronger foundation for liberalism while strengthening the case for an ecocentric ethic.(Related subjects: Ecology)Saving Western Towns: A Jeffersonian Green Proposal (PDF)in Writers on the Range, Karl Hess and John Baden, eds., University Press of Colorado, 1998.Developmental pressures in the rural and small town West involve three groups: long term residents, new arrivals, and environmentalists. Today their interests often conflict. This conflict is in part the outcome of institutions which prevent harmonizing competing interests. The concept of developmental trusts, both for rural regions and for small communities offers a means whereby these interests can be harmonized for the benefit of all concerned.(Related subjects: Politics)Social Ecology, Deep Ecology, and Liberalism (PDF)Critical Review, 6: 2-3, 1992.Murray Bookchin is considered a leading radical environmental theorist. However, his analysis is incapable of leading humankind towards a more respectful and sustainable relationship with the natural world. Criticisms of Bookchin from both the deep ecology and evolutionary liberal perspective complement one another, pointing the way towards a better understanding of how modernity relates to the environment.The paper as a whole offers an early discussion of issues that are more clearly addressed in later papers, particularly Deep Ecology and Liberalism (1996) and the three Trumpeter articles in 1997, 1996, and 1993. However, there are other ideas in the article which have not been developed more thoroughly elsewhere.
This was a response to comment on the immediately preceding post. It suggests a practical way of bringing corporations under the law without depending on corrupt politicians who have been bought off. The recent actions by Massey Energy, Goldman Sachs, and Wellpoint suggest remedial measures are long overdue.
Corporations are institutionally incapable of acting
ethically. They will only do so
when the penalty for being caught breaking the law is greater than any likely
profit from doing so. The recent
cases of Massey Energy, Goldman Sachs, and now Wellpoint demonstrate this sad
In addition, their wealth and power make elected officials
unlikely allies against them except for the short term – and than, as the
Republicans and too many Democrats demonstrate, they will do what they can to
appear on the people’s side while loyally serving their real paymasters. Nor is
corporate media an ally.
Corporations have become a new aristocracy, largely above
the law, which they simply buy off or pay relatively painless fines. Unlike the old aristocracy, neither
decency nor generosity amount for much because should any CEO so act, it will
be at the cost of profit and of share value, and they will risk being ousted in
a take over bid. Such positions of
leaders attract sociopaths who will use the perks of leadership primarily to
feather their own nests.
In other words, we have created and sustained institutional
sociopaths morally worse than the old aristocracy, organizations that will
actually penalize decent people acting decently if it costs them profit. The only likely exceptions will be the
first generation of founders, if they have a strong ethical vision.
The alternative to relying on
politicians, and a reasonable one, is the “Corporate Death Penalty.”
If a corporation breaks the law
three times within 20 years, using the same logic conservatives love to employ
with real people, the company has its assets sold to the highest bidder with
the money going first to pay for damages, second, to pay for the sustenance and
retraining of its wag employees, and if any remains, to pay off public debt. If a national law is its third strike,
it goes to reduce the national debt.
If a state law, it reduces the state debt. Shareholders get
nothing. Their shares’ value falls
Top management is prohibited from
ever working together, to destroy the culture of corruption they created and
sustained. The firm’s name is
abolished for a generation. It is
as dead as a company can be.
The penalty is so draconian that
with a second conviction share prices will suffer seriously. This in itself will virtually guarantee
that top management will be ousted as a preventive measure, and very strict
rules enforced vis-à-vis the law.
Even a first conviction will raise questions about the competence of top
management, and may cost them their positions.
This environment will hopefully
push back against the advantages sociopaths currently possess in rising to
leadership positions. If it fails
to do so, at least it will help keep them under control, or eliminate them from
The logic of the corporate death
penalty is to create such circumstances that it will almost never need to be
employed. One ‘execution’ should
do the job because top management will then rigorously self-police because they
stand to lose a great deal with even a second conviction. And if they do not, shareholders will.
The profit orientation of the market will then work to improve behavior rather
than as it does now, to encourage corruption.